What follows are a few of the questions that have been consuming a significant amount my brain cycles recently. This may or may not be a departure from what I might normally post, but I’d like to start using my web presence as a personal data store as much as a place to publish opinionated pieces about this, that, or the other.
Two more notes. First, on the subject of journalism, it’d be fascinating to see beat reporters regularly post their current questions of interest. This may even be a sellable asset. In addition to benefiting from the information they produce, I as a reader could also learn tremendously from their research process.
Second, I literally can not wait until I have a tool that allows me to manage my learning process. Specifically, I’d love to be able to articulate questions that inspire movement towards knowledge, map my answers when I find them, and then computationally mine the activity data for insights.
How many hours a day are wasted trying to solve a problem that has either already been solved or just needs existing data to generate a solution? Which industries spend the greatest amount of time solving information problems, and what would be the economic gains if you could provide the “just-in-time” data needed to solve the problems? What tools do you need to actively monitor and provide for these information needs?
How does the nature of work change when the efficiencies of technology rule an increasing number of jobs obsolete? How is the nature of local business and commerce shifting because of the web and supply chain efficiencies?
What percentage of students have to take out loans for tuition, and how has that number changed over the years? How has the payback period changed in total and by course of study? Does higher education make more or less economic sense? This data repository may hold answers.
What is the breakdown of information provided by a traditional newspaper (how much and of what topics)? What other local information providers overlap with this information, and how much of it is unique to the newspaper? What are the overall information needs of the community, and how do you surface and visualize this?
What percentage of vehicles drive down I-5 with solely a single occupant? How could you incentivize these drivers to self-report their “flight plans”? What systems have attempted to solve this, and what have been their successes and failures?
In what ways can you produce, structure and save a lot of personal data in such a fashion that it can become useful in the aggregate? How do you bake this into your workflow so that it isn’t extra work? What bits of data would be useful on a personal level, a community level, and/or a societal level? Related: absolutely fascinating RadioLab episode explores how the mining of Agatha Christie’s written works led to a surprising insight.